Malta to ratify UNESCO intangible culture convention

Country will allow aspects of Maltese culture, such as village feasts, to benefit from a status of international cultural protection

Malta will become the 173rd country to sign a UNESCO Convention that aims at safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. The convention, which was debated in Parliament this evening, will allow aspects of Maltese culture, such as the language and village feasts, to benefit from UNESCO recognition as part of the global cultural heritage.

As soon as Malta signs the convention, the government will have to draw up an inventory of its intangible natural heritage and implement schemes that safeguard this heritage through a bottom-up approach. Malta will also have to pay a small membership fee and submit regular reports to UNESCO on the implementation of this convention.

Culture minister Owen Bonnici hailed the ratification as one that will allow Malta to “join a club of countries who have the right to propose aspects of their culture for global recognition”.

“I am not Maltese because I was physically born on the island or because I have a Maltese passport, but because I speak the Maltese language and engage in certain traditions.”

He warned that certain aspects of Maltese culture, such as dialects, are at risk of vanishing.

“My home village of Zejtun is actually split by a street into two villages, and those from the top village have a different dialect from those from the bottom one. I am sad to see certain dialects vanishing.”

Shadow culture minister Karl Gouder warned that there is a significant portion of the Maltese portion who don’t appreciate local culture.

“It is important for Malta to ratify this convention, as it will place us on a higher platform and perhaps encourage more people to engage in local culture,” he said.